How to Become a Sword Swallower – Duane Vorhees


1) First, you must tie a string to a piece of potato. (You’re tied to superego’s gordian strictures — Crucifix, Valentine, Flag. These knots are ununtied, intricate, tight.)

2) Swallow the spud to train the throat. (You’ve learned to swallow the many social lies: That Faith supercedes reason, that True Love lives forever, that our honorable, honest, and able country is the extension and completion of ourselves.)

3) Pull up the potato backwards through the esophagus. Retch you will. (Your prayers change nothing. Eternity turns mundane. Your limbs, life, and savings are all disposable in the national interest.)

4) Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Til your tater retrieval is accomplished cleanly. (Shatter all icons, decree that divorce. Finalize your discharge — it will be honorable no matter what the document says.)

5) Congratulations! Now you can swallow a sword! (Or wield it. Or fall upon it. )

6). Find a carnival. Join the circus. (Decease with no heaven, no passion, no patriotic medal.)

Duane Vorhees is now securely settled in Farmersville, Ohio, 50 years after he left there to go exploring. In the intervening years he lived in Canada, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and other exotic places like Charleston, South Carolina. He spends his time curating, a daily webzine devoted to the creative arts. Above is his first-ever short story.


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